Kirby 100: The Lost Adventure
The Kirby Spotlights conclude with a classic Fantastic Four tale!
Join us to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.
In Jack Kirby’s final issue contributing pencils to FANTASTIC FOUR, the first family of super heroics spotted an old foe called Janus—whom readers had never seen before—in the Negative Zone. Issue #108, which also featured the work of Stan Lee, Joe Sinnott, John Buscema, and John Romita, explained how, long ago, this incredibly powerful individual wreaked havoc, and once even defeated Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm in combat.
When Reed Richards recalled an old school friend, named Janus, who studied Nega-Power, he joined Sue Storm on a reconnaissance mission. The Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic traveled to his old friend’s home, where they discovered that Janus’ scientific experiments went awry, creating an evil Janus that had to be killed.
Instead of ceasing his research entirely, however, Janus decided to travel to the Negative Zone to continue his Nega-Power experiments in isolation. As the team watched him, they wondered what would happen should his evil form return—which, of course, he did.
This tale, however, did not appear as originally intended. In 2008, Marvel published a one-shot called FANTASTIC FOUR: THE LOST ADVENTURE, which presented the story as written by Lee and Kirby, this time with some help from Sinnott, Ron Frenz, and colorist Chris Sotoymayor.
As explained in the book’s intro, Lee and Kirby intended for the Janus adventure to take place five issues earlier than it did, in FANTASTIC FOUR #103. Despite their original plan, however, they didn’t complete the issue in time, and Romita and Buscema ended up filling in to complete the issue for #108.
The original story—which Frenz helped finish drawing based on notes made by the original creators—varied from the one first published. Instead of seeing Janus in the Negative Zone, the team saw a statue of Janus, inspiring Mr. Fantastic to recount their adventure with the villain by way of the nearby Neuroscan. Then, after Reed and Sue planted a camera in Janus’ house, the evil Janus appeared and discovered the FF’s spying device. The good Janus, also present, pulled a gun on his evil form, but this time did not kill him—instead, it was revealed that Janus and Janus were twins!
This issue—our final Kirby Spotlight—is the King working at his peak. Featuring killer fight scenes, secret hideouts, wild villains, as well as powerful imagery and character work, Jack Kirby ended his run with the Fantastic Four in style.
In appreciation for this story—and for every story we’ve covered during the celebration of the King’s centennial—we say thank you, and happy birthday, to Jack.
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